Thursday, June 3, 2021

Indexed EPO-EPC Guidelines (1 Mar 21) now available to order

The EPO-EPC Guidelines for Examination (www.epo.org) covers EPO procedures during filing, search, examination, grant & opposition of EPC applications filed at EPO. Entry of PCT applications into the EP phase is also briefly covered.

This Indexed Version includes the complete official GL/EPO (EPO/EPC Guidelines), which are considered essential for exam candidates, and for professionals dealing with European patent applications in their daily life.

This version is valid from 1 Mar 2021 to 28 Feb 2022. It is the official version for EQE 2022 Main Exam & Pre-Exam. See this post for comments on which legal texts to use.

Note that answers at the EQE based on EPO-EPC Guidelines should be supported by EPC Articles, Rules, GL/EPO Guidelines (IPREE R.22) citations.

Our Indexed Version improves on the official version by:
  • grouping the index entries at the front and abbreviating entries to allow quick scanning
  • using page numbers to speed up getting to the correct page
  • indicating sections with significant changes in the last 3 years
  • including the complete official sources, and retaining the original paragraph structure and the underlining of the legal citations
  • modifying the contents to fully use the page size, giving better overviews of paragraphs
New this year is the A4-format (210 x 297mm) created by Ignacio Lobato, which reduces the page count from 990 pages to 488. We now offer two versions, both with black and white contents:
1) 🛒Portable Edition - 16mm thick, using thinner 50gr "bible paper" to reduce the thickness to 26mm and the weight to 800gr.
2) 🛒Study Edition - using thicker 80gr paper, which is more suitable for intensive tabbing, annotating and highlighting. It is 26mm thick and weighs 1250 gr.

For more details, including the order links, and sample pages, see: fireballpatents.com/study-materials

EQE 2022 - which legal texts to use?

 

There are no details yet on which digital references will be allowed or available during the exam. So, you may still need to print your references just before the exam.

During EQE 2021, External References were available for digital reading and searching, but were limited to the EPO website only. These were the original versions of the references, and no annotation or highlighting was possible. Copy/paste was available from the
references. No details yet on what will be available in 2022.

Answers for the Main and Pre-Exam will be accepted based on legal texts valid on 31 Oct 2021 - REE (OJ SE2, 2019) Art. 13(1)(c), Rule 2 (this is still the old REE - it is likely to be updated this year. There was already an updated Instructions to Candidates - OJ 2021, A13).

I will be updating all my EQE-specific study materials to provide versions valid on 31 Oct 2021. Hopefully, many of the references will be made available digitally during the exam, so that this set can be minimised.  

The EPO-EPC and EPO-PCT Guidelines have moved to a new revision cycle, namely 1 March each year. If the EPO website is available again during the exams as an External Reference, the 1 Mar 2022 versions will be the versions in force and available digitally. The 1 Mar 2021 versions will only be
available on-line in the EPO-EPC Guidelines Archive and EPO-PCT Guidelines Archive as PDF's.

During EQE 2021, the exam committees were pragmatic and flexible about what they would accept to support an answer - either the official versions (valid on 31 Oct before the exam), or newer versions available digitally through External References.

General recommended:
  • For EQE 20xx, use the legal texts and documents valid on 31 Oct 20xx-1
  • As a practicing (trainee) attorney, you should always be aware of the most up-to-date materials. If you use versions made available after 31 Oct 20xx-1 to answer questions, you will not be penalised. 
  • But be pragmatic and don't just print out a lot of books or buy new ones. It is better to update older versions yourself by going through the changes in detail. The EPO provides some track changes versions and the WIPO usually uses change bars.
  • Only transfer a lot of notes and annotations to a new version if you are using very old materials.
  • If you do not use an "official version" during the exam, make a note once in each EQE exam of the Guidelines version you use. It is not required, but it makes it easier for the marker.
Summary for Main and Pre-Exam EQE 2022: 
  • They will officially accept answers based on legal texts & documents in force on 31 Oct 2021
  • They will also accept answers based on legal texts & documents in force after 31 Oct 2021 (including any updated EPO & EPO-PCT Guidelines version 1 Mar 22)
  • Recommended for EQE 2022:
    • look through the most important EPO & EPO-PCT Guidelines changes in Feb 2022 - the EPO usually provides a track changes version
    • many of these changes will be based on Case Law, OJ EPO notices and practice changes that were already known in 2021, but missed the update one year earlier. 
    • update the 1 Mar 2021 versions of the Guidelines yourself

CLICK BELOW for the background and explanations: 

EQE 2022 - preparation and top bugs that need to be fixed

EQE 2022 has been announced (OJ 2021, A44), and it has been confirmed that the EQE will be online, it may be taken at any suitable location, and WISEflow will be used again. The exams will take place over two weeks: 
  • Tu 08 Mar 22 - D Exam / Th 10 Mar - A Exam
  • Tu 15 Mar 22 - B Exam / Th 17 Mar - C Exam / Fri 18 Mar - Pre-Exam
No details yet on which other software will be used or whether changes will be made in the room and workspace restrictions. But based on EQE 2021, taking an exam is likely to require: 
  • an exam browser, such as LockDown Browser
  • continuous AI-assisted camera and sound invigilation, so you must be visible in the webcam field of view for long periods
  • online invigilation, such as Zendesk

So, EQE 2022 candidates can already plan ahead:

  • Keep an eye on the EPO’s EQE pages for updated details: EPO e-EQE page, EQE Notices & Downloads, EQE FAQ's
    • don't read through all the details from EQE 2021 - much of the info was provisional, a lot is repeated, and it is likely to change or be consolidated
  • At least one mock should be expected in Jan / Feb. Reserve the time and take part - you must use these opportunities to test your system, and to check for individual problems with your hardware/ software
  • Think digital for taking the exam: 
    • a key skill is now typing speed. Take an online typing course and get a comfortable keyboard / mouse
    • become less dependent on paper. Get comfortable reading work documents electronically, especially PDF.
  • Look for resources that support working digitally
    • websites that allow questions to be viewed and answered digitally, such as Practice EQE
    • EPC and PCT books which are digital – a few, like EPC.App and PCT.App can even be annotated digitally and printed. 
  • But be prepared to have your references availableon paper. During EQE 2021, access was provided to the electronic resources on the EPO website only, but it is not yet clear what will be available in 2022.

There were many issues in 2021 with the new exam platform. These are my top bugs that must be fixed for EQE 2022:

  • Digital highlighting of exam pages
    • this was not available at all for exam pages. Some highlighting was possible for the own answer.
    • it is essential when reading off a screen to be able to keep your place, to note things you have used and/or things you need to use
    • candidates should not be wasting their time copying large parts of the exam to their answer just to apply highlighting
  • Copy/paste into the answer without losing formatting
    • copy/paste was possible, but some or all formatting was often lost,
    • this was especially poor with Apple computers
    • candidates should not be wasting their time reformat excerpts
  • Side-by-side previewing of exam pages, allowing correct copy/paste and highlighting
    • copy/paste was only available between different tabs
    • candidates should be able to answer in the same way that they are used to when working digitally
  • Too-limited digital External References during the exam
    • the EPO website was available, with searching
    • this must be extended to include WIPO to avoid every candidate printing out 2000 pages of the PCT Applicant’s Guide
  • Zendesk automatically logging out during the exam
    • candidates had to keep checking every 20 mins and logging back in
    • this should not be necessary.
  • Camera and microphone, once tested, should function throughout the exam
    • many candidates were interrupted by Zendesk during the exam because LockDown Browser had disabled their webcam. the camera tested during startup of LockDown Browser should not be disabled.
    • there should be an automatic warning if the camera and/or microphone is unexpectedly not working

Other improvements needed for EQE 2022:

  • lnclude an optional "digital exam desktop"
    • so that candidates can prepare PDF's and upload them for use during the exam
    • some EPC/PCT books are already digital, and many recommended EPO / WIPO references are only available digitally 
    • allow searchable text of such PDF's, as you have in real-life, for all digital references. Being able to search broadly does not help as much as you think. Only with knowledge can you search quickly and precisely to pick out what you need.
  • Find a more effective way of communicating with candidates than e-mail
    • where follow-up questions can be posted. For example, a forum, Twitter, or Telegram chat groups 
    • be more open about how the exams will be adapted to the platform
  • Provide a technical helpdesk and forum 
    • to solve network and access problems well before the exam
    • especially for company networks and laptops, where candidates will not have Administrator rights.
    • run an early beta test using a large number of external candidates and/or tutors to iron out the bugs
  • Don't make it harder than it needs to be for those with En/Fr/Ge as a 2nd language. 
    • Since 2017, an extra 30 mins was added to each Main Exam so that mainly non-native speakers would have more time. But this is no longer enforced, and it is clear from the 2021 B and C Exams that this time has just been absorbed by more material. 
    • So, have a non-native review team for each exam from the countries who have a good language level, but not the highest. Sorry - no Dutch, Swedish or Danish etc. doing the English :-). They also need to test whether the exams can be made in time.
  • For exams that are split, like the C Exam, subject-matter must be properly separated between parts
    • The length of the current exams can be reduced by removing overlap and repetition. For example: 
      • A Exam: reduce subject-matter, focus mainly on independent claims, and provide less prior art.
      • B Exam is not realistic with client giving you claims. Go back to the old format, reduce subject-matter, only include a few claims, and provide less prior art.
      • C Exam has much repetition in attacks. Include fewer claims, and provide a lot fewer documents.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

epi online conference - Modernising the EQE - 21 June

8 Jun 21: Forum link added. The epi recently published their discussion paper on proposed changes to the EQE from 2024. See separate post for my comments. It is also possible to post comments on epi -learning on-line forum (open to all).

On 21 June 1300-1600, epi is holding an online conference. We want a broad perspective from all EPC states, so please join and make your opinion heard. Non epi members are also invited to register and participate.

Conference on Modernising the EQE to better test “fitness-to-practise”

21.06.2021

Starts: 21.06.2021   13.00hrs
Ends: 21.06.2021   16.00hrs

Venue

Online conference


Description

Moving to a digital testing environment necessitates adaptation of the EQE but also presents an opportunity to review whether the EQE is testing the skills and knowledge required by the European patent attorney of today. The aim of the conference is to explore how to modernise the EQE to better test whether a candidate is ready to practise as an EPA and to help candidates develop the skills and knowledge needed to practise. During the conference, the following topics will be explored: 

  • the motivation for change 
  • the essential skills and knowledge of an EPA, 
  • modernising the structure and timeline of the examination, and 
  • any impact on national examinations and other national considerations. 


Target group

The conference is aimed at delegates who are involved in training EPAs, including training providers, tutors, mentors and employers as well as those who have an interest in maintaining a high standard of training, including professional organisations and patent offices.


Technical requirements

In order to attend the online conference participants need a computer with an internet browser and a high-speed broadband internet connection. For the conference, epi uses Zoom. Security settings on local Firewalls need to be checked. 

To access to the conference epi sends out a link shortly before the conference.


Registration

Please note that despite the conference participation being free of charge, the section on billing information in the registration form is mandatory. Unfortunately it is not possible for us to remove that section at the moment.


Working language

English


Contact

For further information, please contact Jacqueline  Kalbe: education@patentepi.org


Minimum number of participants

20*
*If the minimum number of participants was not reached by the registration deadline, the seminar will be cancelled. In this case the epi will inform you immediately.


Registration deadline

Registration is open until 14.06.2021. The order of receipt by epi will determine the attendance in case of over-subscription.

(The links below may not work. Alternatively click on link at the bottom of the page or try this one).


 Registration epi member/student